Abolishing politics

January 25, 2011

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

- Robert Conquest

David Frum has a proposed State of the Union Address at Esquire.

There is perhaps no more striking progressive belief than the belief that bodies can be created through a political process but, once created, can operate independently of politics.

A moment of thinking with a coherent mind will render this proposition absurd, yet it is held by nearly everyone.

Frum (a Conservative Republican, we are told) uses a magic wand to create independence in two areas:

The Federal Reserve board is our most important recession-fighting tool. I am disturbed by recent attacks on the independence of the Federal Reserve. Like all the presidents since the creation of the Federal Reserve a century ago, I will defend the independence of the Federal Reserve.

The Fed, of course, is not independent in any meaningful sense. It’s enthralled with one particular ideology – Keynesianism – that enthrals mainstream economic opinion that is in turned governed by a close-knit group of academics and bureaucrats. The Fed cannot diverge from mainstream academic economic opinion, by definition as its leaders are selected from a pool of mainstream economists. Said opinion is determined largely by tenure committees and federal grants. Nothing about this process is independent in any meaningful sense. Independent bodies set up specific metrics for success and failure. The Fed does not. Independent bodies are held responsible for failure. The Fed is not. Perhaps most ironically, the Fed is "independent" in the sense that it is not held responsible for its failures – a perfect inversion of the real meaning of independence.

On to Frum’s second example:

I propose that all revenues from gasoline taxes, aviation fees, and other similar sources be placed in a fund directed by an independent infrastructure bank. The bank would be permitted to issue bonds up to a certain level, too. Instead of Congress writing a highway bill every five years, the bank would develop a list of priorities — no politics allowed. I’d suggest we have seven directors of the bank. Three would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Two would be nominated by a conference of the Republican state governors, two more by a conference of the Democratic state governors. The directors would serve fixed and overlapping terms.

I swear that this is what he is actually proposing – it is not a reactionary parody of something a progressive would propose.

We have 7 members of the Board. Three are appointed by politicians of one sort. Two are appointed by politicians of another sort and the remaining two are appointed by politicians of yet another sort. When you shake that up, what do you get? Politics cubed? Nope, you get the absence of politics, according to Frum.

Maybe if the independent infrastructure bank had existed before Robert Byrd died, he would have retired from the Senate after being appointed to the Board.


Black cities vs. white cities

January 25, 2011

I’ve lived in two black cities and two white cities. The biggest difference between black cities and white cities is service.

In white cities, service jobs are performed by white kids or white adults (the adults are often the sort who are “just doing the job to pay the bills while they work on their art”). In black cities service jobs are performed by blacks.

When I first moved to DC, it took me a long time to get used to the fact that the mail might come at 10:00pm (or not come at all). That sometimes when someone takes my order for a coffee they might look pissed off at me for interrupting their day. That sometimes my order won’t come and that if I mention this fact to anyone, they’ll get really pissed off at me. That cashiers in the grocery store will stop working when their cell phone rings (most grocery stores in DC now block cell phone reception in the store to prevent this, but this means that you can’t make a call from the grocery store). That some weeks the trash collectors will skip a house or two or simply forget to come down my alley (and calling to ask for them to come back is a huge waste of time).

It’s well known that even the most politically-correct white people flee cities if there’s any possibility that their children might have to attend a school with a meaningful percentage of black kids, but if we leave the city, it will probably because we just want a normal trip to the grocery store.

I remember after I first moved to DC, I went to the DMV on a Wednesday morning. I got there a bit before it opened and waited in line to get in. After I made it past the initial line and got my number, I proceeded into a waiting room. The waiting room consisted of two groups of chairs split by an aisle. Everyone that was already in the waiting room was sitting on the right side. Naturally, I moved toward the left side . . . until I realized that someone had vomited on the floor in the middle of the chairs on the left side. I was at the DMV for approximately 2 hours. In that time no one cleaned up the vomit. It was apparently normal – no one cared.

At the DMV in Seattle, on the other hand, I was in and out in 5 minutes and I had a nice chat about the weather with the lady who gave me a drivers license.


Obsidian

January 25, 2011

Obsidian is criticizing me and I can’t figure out what he’s talking about. Could someone explain to me what he is criticizing me for so that I can respond?

In the interests of defending myself, I’ll be charitable and try to create a coherent argument against myself based on what Obsidian has written.

Here’s my guess as to what his argument is:

1) He thinks that HBDers believe that every characteristic of any given human being is 100% heritable.

2) I wrote a post about passing advice on to my progeny.

3) point 2) implies that I would be changing my progeny’s behavior, which contradicts point 1)

Therefore, I don’t really believe in HBD. QED

Is this his argument?

Assuming that it is, it easy to see why it’s retarded. Point 1) is an absurd caricature of the HBD position. HBDers (and biologists generally) believe that human actions and abilities are largely heritable. When "largely" is quantified, it’s usually put in the 60%-80% range. In other words, a given person’s abilities are 60%-80% determined by genetics. Personally, I think the 80% side of that range is probably correct, but there’s still a lot of room for a person to be affected at the margin by non-genetic factors.


Ideas

January 24, 2011

I’m wondering if my readers have any questions for me. Specifically, I’m wondering what people would like to know about working for government agencies. If you have any ideas, comment in this post or email me: fosetiwp.


Surprise

January 24, 2011

In general, the race realist finds the world much less surprising than the average politically-correct person. However, sometimes, even the race realist is surprised:

A jaw-dropping 48 percent of black women between ages 14 and 49 have the virus which causes genital herpes, says the federal agency.


Men’s rights and traditionalism

January 23, 2011

There’s a weird relationship between the man-o-sphere and traditionalist bloggers. I link to both because I believe that – to some extent – they need each other. I’m not sure anyone on either side agrees with me. So, at the risk alienating everyone . . . here I go.

The most unobjectionable argument from the man-o-sphere is that men and women should be treated equally under the law. Feminism specifically rejects this notion – if you disagree, please explain modern divorce laws, for example. To the extent that the man-o-sphere only wants to address these legal inequalities, it need not concern itself with traditionalism or any other -isms. (I should add that I’m skeptical of the movement’s ability to out-liberal liberals, but I wish it the best of luck).

I think that the men’s movement should aim for more than equality before the law. I think it should aim for turning back the "progress" we’ve seen in our collective morality over the last several decades. For example, making divorce laws more favorable to men would be great. However, arresting the decline in marriage rates would be even better. Better still would be reducing levels of out-of-wedlock births, making marriages last longer, reducing the overall level of sluttiness in society, etc. These latter changes are going to require more than lobbying your douchey Congressmen.

I don’t see how these changes can come about without some sort of return to a more traditional society.


Review of “Caves of Steel” by Isaac Asimov

January 23, 2011

I’m continuing my perusal of science fiction/detective stories. This book was also the first Asimov book that I’ve read.
In this future world, humans colonized surrounding planets in previous eras. The current citizens of earth are crammed into giant cities and are approaching a Malthusian limit on their population. In order to escape the Malthusian trap, citizens of earth must colonize new planets, but they are too accustomed to city life to be able to colonize new planets.

The book also has some interesting interactions between humans and the robots that are stealing the humans’ jobs.

Interesting read all around. The detective story was quite good. Asimov could compete with any crime fiction writer.


Global warming

January 23, 2011

A while back I tried to actually understand the science of global warming.

The "science" is not science – in my opinion – it’s statistical modeling. Statistical modeling is very different than science. If they were the same things, our large banks would be solvent. I spend a fair amount of time analyzing the models at the largest banks – perhaps the only models more complex than the climate models. By all rights, the climate models should be much less rigorous than the global warming models – after all, banks are betting the house on the models. If the climate models are worse than the banking models, then they’re less than worthless. But I digress . . .

The "science" of global warming makes specific claims: 1) global temperatures will increase gradually over time; and 2) these increases will be more pronounced in extreme latitudes.

Thus, condition 1) implies that we would not be able to determine if global warming is happening until we have temperature data many many years into the future. In other words, if someone actually believes in the "science" of global warming, he’d never write anything like this.


Race and immigration

January 23, 2011

In his weekly reactionary radio program, John Derbyshire makes some excellent points about media coverage of race and immigration lately (see items 06 and 07):

06 — Reuters says immigrants steal jobs. This item and the following one both illustrate a shifting of the boundaries of American conservatism. . . .

OK, here’s the first of my two stories illustrating the shifting of those boundaries. Reuters, which is a respectable news agency, commissioned a study by the Center for Labor Market Studies, a respectable economics research institute, at Northeastern University, a respectable institute of higher education, in Boston, the original and purest hearth-place of American respectability. The results of the study were published by Reuters this week. They show some facts so deeply un-respectable, even among conservatives, that if you uttered them out loud at an American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation luncheon, you would be hustled from the room by armed guards.

. . .

In any case, the main thrust of the report is that continuing mass immigration, much of it illegal, is taking jobs from American citizens, especially the poorest and least-educated of us. Quote: "Sum [that is, Andrew Sum, director of the Center] said the whole situation was creating a deeper domestic labor glut at the bottom of the workforce ladder, depressing wages and sharpening already widening income disparities." End quote.

Nothing very surprising to anyone acquainted with immigration issues. What is surprising is the respectability quotient of the context — the researchers, their university, and the reporting agency. Five years ago none of them would have touched this. American Enterprise and Heritage — let alone Cato! — wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole. National Review might have touched it, but very warily. It just wasn’t respectable to say anything negative about immigration.

. . .

07 — Wonks discover whiteness. Here’s topic number two illustrating boundary creep in the respectable conservative movement.

This is from National Journal, which is a sort of trade magazine for policy wonks. National Journal isn’t strong on opinion articles and doesn’t have much of a political "line," but if you want to know who got out-maneuvered for a seat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, these are your guys. If you’re not the kind of person who wants to know stuff like that, National Journal is an insomnia cure. You will be unable to stay awake through the average National Journal article.

We are of course deep in the respectability zone once again here. It was therefore doubly striking to see National Journal talking about ethnic disaggregation in the voting booth. This was not the average National Journal article. It’s worth reading all the way through. Go to nationaljournal.com and search on the phrase "white flight."

. . .

What do they have to say? Quote:

By any standard, white voters’ rejection of Democrats in November’s elections was daunting and even historic. Fully 60 percent of whites nationwide backed Republican candidates for the House of Representatives; only 37 percent supported Democrats …

End quote. They are analyzing exit polls here from the 2010 midterms. What the exit polls are showing is white flight from the Democratic Party — that’s actually the name of the article, "White Flight."

. . .

Again, as interesting as the results themselves is the fact that they are being discussed so frankly in a periodical so respectable, if it were able to drink tea it would lift its pinkie. If I wanted that kind of analysis five years ago I had to sneak into my office, turn the light off, lock the door, and read Steve Sailer.


Weekend reactionary link round up

January 23, 2011

Chuck on Dr Gosnell.

A while back I made fun of Megan McArdle for saying that she wanted to live in a racially diverse neighborhood. I thought it was a ridiculous statement. Anyway, this happened a couple blocks from her new place. Ahhh . . . the joys of diversity.

Ulysses writes: "The weave industry will warm the cockles of the globalist libertarians. Supply, demand, and sacks of hair." I couldn’t resist quoting that.

I also can’t resist quoting Ilkka:

"30 Days", in which the documentarian Morgan Spurlock set up educational experiences for various wrong-thinking people, once had an episode where a white conservative had to live with gay men, and then another episode where a white conservative had to live with devout Muslims, but for some mysterious reason that we can only begin to speculate, Morgan never completed this triangle by having an openly gay man live 30 days in a devout Muslim community.

And Moldbug:

There is a word in the American political vocabulary for the last struggles of meaningful representative democracy. The word is "McCarthyism." McCarthyism, in neutral language, is the irrational belief that unelected and/or extra-governmental officials should be responsible to elected officials. The question of McCarthyism was whether the American people, by electing a Congress, could hold such august, bipartisan, professional and apolitical agencies as the State Department responsible to their fickle, uninformed wills. The answer, as it turned out, was no.

This headline is super surprising. I worked in risk management at large financial firm for a while. We had different risk tolerances for firms run by minorities and women. We took some heavy losses for these looser risk tolerances, but I guess it was worth it to promote diversity.

I doubt Borepatch considers himself "libertarian." But this seems much more libertarian to me than this.

Matthew Yglesias is racist. He also wants men to act more like women.

Auster on the intersection of HBD and traditional Christianity. Obviously, I’m on the HBD side in this debate, but it’s worth reading nonetheless.

There are a lot of links between the Austrians and hardcore Catholicism, so this wouldn’t surprise me.


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